AG says ignorance of open meeting law is no excuse


Selectmen and school committee members may have a harder time claiming they didn’t know better when they run afoul of the Open Meeting Law. New regulations laid out by Attorney General Martha Coakley require that “deliberate ignorance” is akin to deliberately setting out to violate the law, the State House News Service reported last week.

The state’s top law enforcement officer completed two Open Meeting Law regulations on August 21, to add greater clarity and guidance to the rules that govern how municipal and executive office boards and commissions can hold meetings. The law specifically exempts the state legislature from the Open Meeting Law.

Ms. Coakley’s final regulations hold that actions carried out with “deliberate ignorance,” or done after being informed by a court or the attorney general that the action violates the Open Meeting Law, constitute “intentional violations.”

Ms. Coakley also updated the regulations that prescribe how members of public bodies may participate in meetings remotely, making clear that local boards of selectman can set consistent restrictions for remote participation in public meetings.